Tue, Apr 03, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Shih is running out of dupes

How fitting that former Democratic Progressive Party chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) chose Sunday, or April Fools' Day, to announce that he was resurrecting last year's failed campaign to unconstitutionally oust President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) from office.

Fitting, because anyone who still believes a word uttered by this wholly discredited figure after last year's events is a complete and utter fool.

Foolish to believe the word of a man who broke so many of the promises he made last time around.

A man that vowed to endure pain, hardship and suffering to stay outside the Presidential Office until Chen stepped down, but who after just a few hours of protesting was whisked off in a chauffeur-driven car for a meal at a fancy restaurant and a shower at a luxury hotel.

A man who on Dec. 5 began a self-imposed exile in his apartment -- again vowing to stay there until Chen stepped down -- but just a few weeks later made a trip to the US.

A man who has never properly explained the source of, or what happened to, the NT$110 million (US$3.3 million) he received in donations ahead of the original campaign.

A man who claimed to be fighting for a better society, but who took to the stage with known gangsters, convicted tax evaders and various other criminal figures.

And a man whose sole campaign premise was based on "fighting corruption," but who showed an incredibly selective attitude when it came to choosing the type of corruption he wanted to fight.

Only complete fools would believe Shih and the reasons he gave on Sunday for the decision to resuscitate his failed campaign; namely that he was worried that Chen would break his promise and refuse to step down if first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) is convicted for her part in the "state affairs fund" case.

Let's hope Shih doesn't manage to fool Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) into permitting this absurd campaign such extensive protest rights as Hau's predecessor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) did.

Indeed, it was Ma who ended up looking like a fool when Taipei residents eventually became so fed up with the disruption caused by Shih's ridiculous movement that the mayor's popularity began to slide.

But while Shih is willing to take everyone else for fools, he himself is not a complete fool. When he spoke on Sunday about creating a "third force" in Taiwanese politics, he made it clear that he would not run in the year-end legislative elections. This is not surprising following his disastrous performance in 2002, when he stood for Kaohsiung mayor and received just 8,750 votes.

It will be interesting to see this time around -- in an election year -- if any pan-blue politicians are foolish enough to pin their stripes on Shih's "anti-corruption" post, especially after People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), one of the most vociferous supporters of Shih's campaign last year, performed so miserably in last December's Taipei mayoral election.

But the biggest fools of all will be anybody who believes Shih's revived campaign is anything but a partisan attempt to harm the pan-green camp's chances in the upcoming legislative and presidential elections. Why else would Shih rail against an incriminated president, but say nothing about the possibility of an indicted man succeeding him?

No doubt a minority of pan-blue diehards, Chen-haters and the free lunch crowd will be foolish enough to join forces with Shih once more.

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